78
78

PROPERTY FROM THE ESTATE OF ANDREW GORDON

Ad Reinhardt
ABSTRACT PAINTING, 1950
Estimate
1,000,0001,500,000
LOT SOLD. 1,445,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT
78

PROPERTY FROM THE ESTATE OF ANDREW GORDON

Ad Reinhardt
ABSTRACT PAINTING, 1950
Estimate
1,000,0001,500,000
LOT SOLD. 1,445,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

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New York

Ad Reinhardt
1913 - 1967
ABSTRACT PAINTING, 1950
signed, titled and dated 1950 on the backing board
oil on canvas
60 x 38 1/2 in. 152.4 x 97.8 cm.
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Provenance

The Artist
Museum of Modern Art, New York (Gift of Mrs. Ad Reinhardt, 1969)
The Pace Gallery, New York
Christie's, New York, November 7, 1989, Lot 60
Edward Tyler Nahem Fine Art, New York (acquired from the above)
PaceWildenstein, New York
Acquired by the present owner from the above in 2003

Exhibited

New York, Betty Parsons Gallery and Section Eleven Gallery, Twenty-five Years of Abstract Painting, October - November 1960
New York, The Jewish Museum, Ad Reinhardt: Paintings, November 1966 - January 1967, cat. no. 49, p. 21, illustrated in color
Düsseldorf, Städtische Kunsthalle; Eindhoven, Stedelijk van Abbemuseum; Zurich, Kunsthaus Zürich; Paris, Centre Nationale d'Art Contemporain, Grand Palais; Vienna, Museum des 20. Jahrhunderts, Ad Reinhardt, September 1972 - August 1973, cat. no. 35
New York, Marlborough Gallery, Ad Reinhardt: A Selection from 1937 to 1952, March 1974, cat. no. 42, illustrated
Columbus, The Columbus Gallery of Fine Arts, Aspects of Postwar Painting in America, January - February 1976
New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Ad Reinhardt and Color, December 1979 - January 1980, cat. no. 3, p. 31, illustrated
New York, Museum of Modern Art; Los Angeles, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Ad Reinhardt, May 1991 - January 1992, p. 58, illustrated in color

Literature

Lucy Lippard, Ad Reinhardt, New York, 1981, pl. 15, p. 92, illustrated in color

Catalogue Note

Ad Reinhardt’s paintings have a timeless presence and for all their evident formalist concerns, they are a subtle and soulful artistic achievement. Reinhardt possessed an unsurpassed authority over color, surface and composition that was reflective of his independent quest toward “the first painting which cannot be misunderstood.” (the artist cited in Art News, New York, March 1965) The clarity and rich tonal hues of Abstract Painting, 1950 are a testament to the artist’s steadfast belief that true painting did not depict objects or subjects, nor did it encompass the expressive excess of brushwork championed in the work of the New York Action Painting of the late 1940s and early 1950s. Reinhardt’s innate inclination was toward the geometric, and he sought a refined clarity in style and aesthetic that would go beyond any rigidly strict formalist structure or non-objectivist theory. In Reinhardt’s classic period of the early 1950s when he first mastered the direction of his unique aesthetic practice, the abstractions that focused on single color ranges of blue or red, such as Abstract Painting, 1950 were particularly admired and prized as celebrations of color in non-referential terms.  The present painting was exhibited in the acclaimed Jewish Museum retrospective of Reinhardt’s work in late 1966 just prior to the artist’s death in 1967, and soon after Rita Reinhardt gifted Abstract Painting, 1950 to the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1969. In the years that followed, Abstract Painting, 1950would be included in major retrospectives of the artist’s work organized by the Städtisches Kunsthalle in Düsseldorf (1972-1973), the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (1979-1980) and the Museum of Modern Art, New York (1991-1992).

Reinhardt was never more commanding than in his close-valued, brightly hued canvases of 1950-1951 that allow for a myriad of variations masterfully balanced in a contrapuntal composition. The “bricks” that expand across the surface of Abstract Painting, 1950 first appear in their nascent form in the canvases of the late 1940s, in which the edges of the color shapes are often softer, more diffuse and less rectilinear. Reinhardt’s palette, which had included vivid pinks, yellows and greens in the 1940s, became more reductive. By 1950, the paintings’ component parts are more flattened and hard-edged, and colors of related tonal quality are interlocked in a complex array of geometric patterns, as witnessed in Abstract Painting, 1950. Thomas B. Hess wrote an acute summation of the refined mastery of Reinhardt’s paintings of the early 1950s in his review of the 1953 one-man show of the artist’s work at Betty Parsons Gallery in New York: “The precious aspect of the small 1913 Mondrians is avoided, as is the overwhelmingly panoramic suction into surface of the giant-scale works of Jackson Pollock or Clyfford Still… The edges of the shapes are neat but not precise, soft, obviously hand-made …The hues too are distributed evenly… Contrasting colors are often adjusted to equivalences… which, in Fairfield Porter’s phrase, make your eyes rock…. But despite their variety, flatness is positively asserted in all the pictures: there is no overlapping, no play with illusion or dimension.” (Thomas B. Hess, “Reinhardt: the Position and Perils of Purity”, Art News, December 1953, p. 26)

Ultimately, light plays a revelatory role in Reinhardt’s hands, contributing to the palpable presence of color in Abstract Painting, 1950 and the other chromatic masterpieces of the artist’s oeuvre. The sophisticated composition is revealed as the hues absorb or reflect the light that plays across the surface, varying according to the time of day or angle of observation. Abstract Painting, 1950 exemplifies Reinhardt’s ability to honor the primal mystery and possibilities of color as an essence and not a metaphor.

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

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New York